Light at end of tunnel

2016-06-22 06:00
FROM the left are Mofumahadi Mathokoana Mopeli, Victor Mokoena (acting manager of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park) and Johan Taljaard (acting regional manager for the northern region). Mokoena received the 2016 Park of the Year Award at the South African National Parks (SANParks) Northern Region Achievement Awards held at the Golden Gate Hotel on Monday (20/06).  Photo: Tladi Moloi

FROM the left are Mofumahadi Mathokoana Mopeli, Victor Mokoena (acting manager of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park) and Johan Taljaard (acting regional manager for the northern region). Mokoena received the 2016 Park of the Year Award at the South African National Parks (SANParks) Northern Region Achievement Awards held at the Golden Gate Hotel on Monday (20/06). Photo: Tladi Moloi

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GOLDEN GATE. – The Golden Gate Highlands National Park has received the Park of the Year Award at this year’s South African National Parks (SANParks) Northern Region Achievement Awards ceremony held at the Golden Gate Hotel on Monday evening (20/06).

Regardless of the tough year the park went through, this was a night for the staff to celebrate and forget about the challenges faced.

As if receiving the Park of the Year Award was not enough reason to celebrate, Victor Mokoena, the park’s acting manager, was also awarded the Leadership Award and his team collected seven awards in all of the ten categories in which awards were presented.

Speaking from the podium after receiving the Leadership Award, an emotional Mokoena dedicated the award to his wife, Refiloe.

“I want to dedicate this award to my wife, who is in hospital at the moment. She has always been there to support me. Actually, she was my shock absorber in the last few months. There were death threats against my family in the past, but she stood up,” Mokoena said.

He said out of the regions they have, Golden Gate had been faced with the toughest of times.

“It is no secret that some of the park’s management have been involved in issues of maladministration and corruption. I am talking about the management which was here before the team, that we referred to as the ‘Hollywood’ – those are the acting team.

“We were implicated in corruption scandals and the killing of animals in the park, but we have managed to uproot those things.”

He said that when he had been appointed the acting manager – following the suspension of the senior managers of the park, who were facing allegations of maladministration, corruption and fraud – he had to surround himself with good people to reclaim the pride of the park.

“At times, I had to be hard on my managers, but that was actually for the best and now they see what I have been working towards. We are now the winners of the Park of the Year Award because of hard work.

“I am dedicating the award to all staff members of the park and stakeholders. Golden Gate wouldn’t have achieved this if it were not for you.”

He said he appreciated the tremendous support that they had received from the region during hard times.

Johan Taljaard, acting manager for the northern region, said he was very proud of the Golden Gate team who had worked hard to save the park from going under.

“Good luck with everything. I will follow your progress and success with a lot of pride,” Taljaard said.

“We are, however, here to celebrate the efforts of the past. We want the winners to inspire others. The region has ended the financial year on a positive note.”

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